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Hermann Hesse “Beyond Pictures and Stories”

Hermann Hesse “Beyond Pictures and Stories”

Hermann “Beyond pictures and stories”

introduction and coordination by Pier Carlo Della Ferrera essays by Alessandro Melazzini, Giuseppe Curonici and Regina Bucher

“Beyond pictures and stories”

The of the life of

I was born in the early hours of the evening At fifteen years of age, when at school I had on a warm day in July, and it is the warmth got nowhere, I started to tutor myself on of that hour that I have unconsciously loved my own, conscientiously and with determi- and sought all my life. nation. To my great pleasure, as luck would I am the son of God-fearing parents whom I have it, in my father’s house there hap- loved dearly and would have loved even pened to be a huge library that had belonged more had they not taught me the fourth to my grandfather: an enormous room full commandment at a very early age.1 of old books, which among other things contained all the and Hermann Hesse was born in , a little philosophy of the eighteenth century. town in Wuerttemberg not far from , on the 2nd of July 1877, the second-born of After his first unsuccessful attempt at work- Johannes and Marie Gundert. His father, a ing as a sales assistant in a bookshop in Russian citizen of Baltic origin, who had pre- Esslingen, in June 1894 Hesse embarked viously served in a Pietist mission, worked for upon a difficult apprenticeship in a church a publishing house which produced religious tower clock factory. He managed to combine texts. His maternal grandfather, for many years manual effort with the tenacious a in India, possessed a thorough commitment of a self-taught man and, thanks and vast knowledge of the Oriental world. From 1881 to 1886 Hesse lived in , where his father had been appointed as edi- tor of the missions’ magazine. After return- ing to Calw with his family, in 1888 he began attending the Lateinschule in Goeppingen and in 1891 passed the diffi- cult State examination (Landexamen), which enabled him to enter the prestigious Evangelical seminary in Maulbronn the fol- lowing Autumn.

Just hearing “You must” was enough to churn me up inside and make me obstinate. It goes without saying that this characteris- tic had an enormous damaging effect on my school years. All attempts at turning me into a useful man ended in failure, or rather dishonour and scan-

Previous page: dal, and in my running away or my expulsion. Hans Sturzenegger mainly to his grandfather’s library, he acquired (1875-1943), Hesse reading, In March 1892, unable to bear the strict dis- a solid cultural education, which had its strong oil on canvas, 1912 cipline imposed by the way of life in the point in reading religious texts, oriental phi- seminary, the young Hermann ran away losophy and Goethe. Left: Letter with water- from boarding school. He was found half After moving to Tubingen in 1895, he found colour by Hermann frozen in the surrounding countryside and employment in the Heckenhauer library Hesse to his son Heiner, December immediately expelled from the institute. and attended bookkeeping courses. Although 1932 There then followed a period of restlessness, he continued to loathe school, his love for

Right: of anxious search for identity and conflict Hesse with his family in with his family and religion. Several times 1 This and the subsequent autobiographical quotations by Hesse 1889, at 12 years of age; are taken from: H. HESSE, Kurzgefasser Lebenslauf (Autobiographical from left to right: the he tried to take up his studies again, but to no author, his father, avail. He even went so far as to threaten sui- outline), in “Neue Rundschau”, issue 8, 1925. Translated from the his sister Marulla, his cide and for this reason was admitted to a nur- Italian (Scritti autobiografici, Milano, Mondadori, 1961) by Barbara mother, his sister Adele and his brother Hans sing home for mental patients and epileptics. Ferrett Rogers.

[III] Hermann Hesse

culture grew steadily, and in the charm- spirit possible. In fact, after having quenched packed atmosphere of the little university that initial thirst, there was a need for me to town he furthered his knowledge of philoso- return from the sea of new things to the old. phy by reading Nietzsche, and above all his And so I did, by going from selling new books literary preparation by studying the authors to antiques. of German including and Brentano. He also devoted himself to Hesse returned to live in Basel from 1899

studying languages and the history of art. At to 1903. He worked as a bookshop assistant, the end of 1898, he published his first work first for Reich and later for the antique deal- consisting of six hundred copies of a collec- er Wattenwyl. His activity as a freelance tion of bearing the significant title: political journalist and critic earned him a Romantic Songs (Romantische Lieder), with certain amount of fame, which enabled him the publisher Pierson in Dresden. The fol- to come into contact with the cultural lowing year he tried his hand at a similar sphere of the city, which still echoed loudly genre, short prose, in the anthology of tales with the philosophy of Jakob Burckhardt, One Hour after Midnight (Eine Stunde hinter who had died a few years earlier; the histor- Mitternacht), which was published in Leipzig ical of this Swiss intellectual was by the publisher Eugen Diederichs and found to have a decisive influence on his work. favour with the critics. He was thus on his In 1901 Hesse made his first journey to way to solving his first serious existential Italy, where he returned two years later. The crisis, thanks to the successful conclusion of visit to Genoa, , , and above

Illustration from the his apprenticeship as a bookseller and the all Tuscany and Umbria aroused in him a book Calwer histo- promising start of a true literary activity. veneration for beauty imbued with moral risches Bilderbuch der Welt (Calw, 1883; participation, a source of intense emotions Stuttgart, 1987) which In the field of culture, living in the pure pre- which inspired him to write a short bio- was in the library of , sent, in the new and brand-new, is senseless graphical sketch of St. Francis of Assisi, Hesse’s grandfather, and unbearable. Only a continual relation- which was published in 1904. In 1901 he whom he spoke about ship with what has been, with history, with also made his debut as a novelist in The in the story The Child- hood of the Magician the old and the very old, makes the life of the Posthumous Papers and Poems of Hermann

[IV] “Beyond pictures and stories”

Lauscher (Hinterlassene Schriften und also to the growing difficulties he was com- Gedichte von Hermann Lauscher), enlarged ing up against in his marital relationship. upon and represented in 1907 with the title Disturbed by deep anxiety, fascinated by the Hermann Lauscher. After the death of his vastness of the world, Hesse felt a deep-seat- mother, to whom he dedicated the collection ed need for different experiences. So he of poems Poems (Gedichte), between 1903 decided to leave for the East, to become and 1904 he published in acquainted with the places where his moth- instalments in the “Neue Rundschau” and in er was born and which he had heard people book form with the influential Fischer pub- talk about so much: from September to lishing house in . Autobiographical, December 1911, together with his painter and centred on the subject of self-realisation friend Hans Sturzenegger, he made a long and self-education, which can only be attain- journey, stopping off in Malaysia, Ceylon, ed at the cost of breaking off and detachment Singapore and Sumatra. He recorded his from the community, the novel was Hesse’s impressions and remarks in the miscellany first great literary success, which enabled of notes, poems and stories entitled From him to leave his job as a bookseller. India. Notes of an Indian Journey (Aus In 1904 he married Maria Bernoulli, a Indien. Aufzeichnungen von einer indischen descendent of the famous family of scien- Reise), which he sent to press in 1913. tists of Basel, and a photographer and In the meantime, after having returned pianist of outstanding sensitivity. He settled from Asia, complying with his wife’s wishes, down with her in Gaienhofen, a quiet little he left Gaienhofen and moved with the fam- village on where their three ily to the outskirts of Berne, in the house children, Bruno (1905), Heiner (1909) and formerly lived in by another painter friend, Martin (1911) were born. Hesse decided to Albert Welti. But not even the beauty and devote himself to literature in propitious comforts of the Swiss capital were able to isolation. He first lived in a house belonging save his marriage with Maria, who had now to farmers, and then in one of his own, with grown cold and insensitive; the themes of a garden, an orchard and a breathtaking the autobiographical events during this view of the lake and mountains. period converged in 1914 into a new novel, This was the beginning of an intense period Rosshalde. of activity for Hesse: in 1906 he published Meanwhile, as confirmation of a presenti- Beneath the Wheel (Unterm Rad), placated ment that the had had many years reminiscences of his traumatic school experi- earlier, and to worsen the state of profound ences; between 1907 and 1912 the volumes of moral, personal and universal crisis, war stories This Side (Diesseits), Neighbours broke out. (Nachbarn) and Umwege and the collection of poems On the Way (Unterwegs); in 1910 the novel Gertrude (), which high- lighted the problem of the frail, precarious equilibrium between artistic vocation and everyday life. He supplemented his strictly literary work with his activity as a journalist: he wrote for various periodicals, (“Neue Rundschau”, “”, “Die Propy- läen”, “Die Rheinlande”) and was one of the founders, together with Ludwig Thoma, of the Liberal review “März”, an instrument of oppo- sition to the authoritarian regime of William No, I could not share the enthusiasm for the Le "petit cénacle", the circle of friends in II and to the lower middle-class taste which beauty of the period, and so I suffered pitifully Tubinga, in a photograph was spreading throughout literature. He came for the war, from the beginning to the end, and taken in 1899; Hermann for years I fought desperately against that mis- Hesse is at the centre, into contact with prominent and between O.E. Faber and artists, such as and . fortune that had apparently arrived from abroad L. Finckh (on the left) However, the season of calm and peaceful out of the blue, while all around me everybody and C. Hammelehle and O. Rupp (on the right) sedentary life was coming to a close, due appeared to be extremely enthusiastic about it.

[V] Hermann Hesse

In an impassioned article which appeared in ries, already outlined before the war, on the “Neue Zürcher Zeitung” on the 3rd of the impossible, tragic escape of a social November 1914 – O Friends, not these tones outcast. (O Freunde, nicht diese Töne) – Hesse de- nounced the massacre, referring to the The first [great change in my life] teachings of Goethe and appealing to reason occurred the moment I consciously decid- against all fanatic Nationalism. The German ed to become a poet. The same thing was press reacted by accusing him of defeatism, happening now during the period of the but it was not long before vast consent also war. I found myself once again in conflict began to arrive from all corners. Among with a world I had lived with in peace up those who expressed their solidarity with his till then. Again, everything fell through, I courageous stand was the French writer was alone and miserable, everything I said , the most illustrious repre- and thought was hostilely misunderstood sentative of the pacifist movement of the by others. So there must have been some- time, with whom Hesse struck up a rela- thing amiss with me, if I was so much at tionship of profound mutual respect and loggerheads with the rest of the world. whom he was to meet in in 1920. […] and so I learned better and better to Declared unfit for military service for let the conflicts of the universe take their which he reported as a volunteer, through- course, and I was able to shoulder my part out the entire world war he worked in sup- of the blame in the general confusion. port of the German soldiers held prisoner This was part of the changed outline of my life, such as the loss of my house, my fam- ily, and other chattels and comforts.

Bereavement and distressing events fol- lowed one another in swift succession: in 1916 his father died and his son Martin contracted meningitis; in 1918 his wife suffered the first signs of severe mental ill- ness and was admitted to a nursing home one year later. The writer, overcome by a nervous breakdown, approached psycho- analysis and underwent treatment with a pupil of Jung, Doctor Bernhard Lang, with whom he struck up a friendship. It was Lang who advised Hesse to make a note of and try to interpret and depict his dreams. This gave origin to Hesse’s first pictorial expe- riences. In 1917 he outlined a few sketches in a notebook during a stay in St. Moritz and one year later illustrated a series of twelve poems in watercolour which he exhibited in December 1919 in in his first one-man show.

As soon as the war was finally over for me in Italy, France, Russia and England, for as well, in the spring of 1919 I retired to whom he founded a newspaper (1916) and an out-of-the-way corner of Switzerland a publishing house. His activities as a free- and became a hermit. lance political journalist and editor formed Certificate of Hermann Hesse’s third marriage the predominant part of his intellectual Hesse left the family for good and, towards with Ninon Dolbin commitments during this period, while his the middle of May 1919, he moved to in Montagnola on the most important literary work, Knulp Montagnola, near Lugano. For twelve years 14th of November 1931 (1915), was limited to resuming three sto- he lived in Casa Camuzzi which his writings

[VI] “Beyond pictures and stories”

and his watercolours were to make famous. In precarious financial circumstances due to the devaluation of the German Mark, he managed to keep going thanks to the sup- port of several friends. Despite the fact that he was in a grievous situation, also psycho- logically, he recovered his creative ability threatened by exhaustion. In fact, these were the years of the novel , which reveals the more immediate echoes of the recent crisis and the attempts to overcome it by means of , Klingsor’s Last Summer (Klingsors letzter Sommer), a painter’s relationship with a nature refractory to the effort of expressing it, Klein and Wagner, the collection Fairy Tales (Märchen) and Hesse’s most famous novel, , which he wrote in 1922 devoted to studying classical archaeology, inspired by a mystic outburst tempered by whom the writer married in 1931. Together vigilant rationality. Cultural and human with her, his faithful companion for the rest synthesis between East and West, this new of his life, he went to live in the Red House work is a sort of apologue on the renuncia- in Montagnola placed at his disposal by his tion of reality understood as a means for friend Hans C. Bodmer. The following year acquiring a more authentic individuality. he synthesised his religious interests and In 1924 Hesse obtained a divorce from his mythicizing of the East in the short but first wife and Swiss citizenship. He married delightful story The (Die the opera singer Ruth Wenger, but their Morgenlandfahrt), the prelude to his great marriage, immediately marked by difficul- final achievement ties and incomprehension, was short-lived. (Das Glasperlenspiel). Presented partially The new crisis culminated in 1927, the year in instalments from 1934 to 1940 and pub- of his second divorce and the publication of lished in book form in 1943 in Zurich, this one of his most emblematic and tormented novel represents the height of Hesse’s nar- works, (Der Steppenwolf). An rative work and is strongly influenced by the anguished warning against the impending political climate of the time. The proposi- war, the novel describes the neurosis of a tion he arrives at, although in an extreme generation and the disease of an era reflect- utopianism of an ideal homeland of scholars ed in the profound contrasts which are and artists, is an act of faith in the possible embedded in the soul of the protagonist. re-evaluation of civilisation, that all intellec- Meanwhile, in 1928, after having published tuals should believe in and in some way co- the collection of poems Krisis, the writer operate. was attending to another ambitious novel Hitler’s rise to power marked a period of dif- which was to be published in 1930, ficult relations between Hesse and the and Goldmund (Narziß und German publishers. The regime treated him Goldmund), the story of a friendship set in like an “unwelcome” author: of all his an imaginary medieval period whose protag- numerous works, only the collections New onists represent the poles of an unsolved Poems (Neue Gedichte) and Commemo- dualism between an ascetic life and open- rative Pages (Gedenkblätter) were pub- ness to the world. lished in during the Nazi period. Despite the impending catastrophe of the He responded by leaving the Prussian Second World War, Hesse now appeared to Academy of Art and devoting himself in have left his most tormented and difficult favour of in exile: he gave hospitali- years behind him, thanks to his acquired ty, among others, to Thomas Mann and maturity and his happy marriage with . Hermann Hesse in 1937 Ninon Dolbin, a young Viennese woman He inaugurated the post-war period with a

[VII] Hermann Hesse “Beyond pictures and stories”

miscellany of political essays, for the whole affair and for the situation as (Krieg und Frieden) in 1946, which was fol- a whole, brutal and trivial. I now felt as lowed, in 1951 and in 1955 by Late Prose though I was putting an end to the torment. (Späte Prosa) and Evocations (Beschwörun- If I were not going to be allowed to play my gen). In 1946 Hesse was awarded the Goethe innocent game as an artist undisturbed, Prize and the for literature. He then I would have had to make use of those did not go to , or to Sweden, where other more serious arts to which I had he sent his wife. In 1955 the German devoted so many years of my life: without Booksellers’ Association awarded him the magic that world was unbearable. Peace Prize. I remembered the Chinese precept: I held Even though fragmentarily, he continued to my breathe for one minute, freeing myself write to the very end. He gave up painting from the illusion of reality. I courteously and devoted himself to gardening in the asked the guards to be patient for one more peaceful atmosphere of Montagnola. He col- moment because I had to board the train in lected letters and prose into volumes, edited my picture to see something. They laughed his works and limited himself to printing as usual, believing me to be touched in the pamphlets and isolated sheets for friends head. and acquaintances in exchange for or in reply Then I made myself very tiny and entered to messages from well-wishers which poured my picture, boarded the little train and pen- in from all over the world. etrated the small black tunnel on it. For an instant the fleecy smoke could still be seen Since so-called reality does not play a very coming out of the round aperture, then the important part for me, because the past smoke withdrew and disappeared, and with often fills me with itself as though it were it the whole picture together with me. the present and the present appears to me to be infinitely far away, I am also unable to Hesse suffered a brain haemorrhage and died separate the future so well from the past as on the 9th of August 1962 at his home in one usually does. I live very much in the Montagnola. He is buried there in the ceme- future, and therefore I do not need to end tery of Sant’Abbondio. my biography with today, but can quite confidently make it proceed. I should like to briefly relate how my life covers its span to the end. At over seventy years of age, immediately after two universities had awarded me an honorary degree, I was dragged to Court for having seduced a young girl by witchcraft. In prison I asked permission to take up paint- ing. I was allowed to. Some friends brought me paints and brushes, and I painted a small landscape on the wall of my cell. It contained almost everything that had given me joy in my life, rivers and mountains, sea and clouds, peasants at harvest-time, and a host of other lovely things to satisfy me. But in the middle of the landscape passed a tiny train with at its head the locomotive which, like a maggot in an apple, had already entered a small tunnel and from whose dark entrance billowed puffs of smoke. I was standing before that picture one day in my prison, when the guards burst in and Hesse and his wife wanted to tear me away from my pleasant Ninon in front of Casa Rossa in 1931 work. Then I felt a tiredness, like a nausea


“Beyond pictures and stories”

Hermann Hesse, the Eastern Wayfarer

by Alessandro Melazzini*

Hermann Hesse, February in (details), watercolour, 1925 Hermann Hesse

[XII] “Beyond pictures and stories”

In the early days following the death of the alien to any concept of Nation, should be writer, very few German publishers would understood more as the outcome of his have given much for Hermann Hesse’s youthful and spontaneous assimilation of the (1877–1962) posthumous fame. Despite the “Christian and almost totally nationless” 5 fact that during his lifetime he enjoyed con- spirit of his father’s house, rather than as a siderable success, which reached its height well-pondered choice made later on in life. in 1946 when he was awarded the Nobel His father, in fact, was a Russian citizen of Prize, the fame of their fellow-countryman Baltic origin, and his mother was German, appeared to be on the decline: his readership with French-Swiss ancestors. Both his par- began to dwindle and the sales of his books ents were staunch, strict observers of the languished. Pietist faith. In former years they had served But they were wrong, as was in India as before moving to when he published an in America in Calw, a small Swabian town in the South of 1963 which was to pave the way for an Germany. Hermann Gundert, his grandfa- incredible “Hesse-Boom”, elevating the ther on his mother’s side, was a famous ori- Swabian writer to the role of prophet of that entalist philologist who possessed a well- “psychedelic generation” which viewed the stocked library where Hesse assimilated his consumption of hallucinogens as the high- first spiritual nourishment and breathed way to the state of Nirvana.1 that charm of the East which was to hold In fact, if Leary had dwelled a little more in him spell-bound throughout the course of depth upon the writings of Hermann Hesse, his long life. he would have been more wary about inter- His childhood and adolescence, “happy and preting his as descriptions of a lyser- enjoyed to the full, but not easy”,6 reverber- gic “trip”.2 ate throughout all Hesse’s works. In his nov- However, it was also thanks to that mistak- els he often narrated, in a more or less en conception that thousands of young altered form, biographic events which enthusiasts, attracted by the exoticism of harkened back to those early years of funda- Siddhartha and by an interpretation of mental importance for his artistic sensitivi- Steppenwolf as a handbook of “sex, drugs & ty, full of “the sweetest and intense sensa- jazz”, helped to once again draw public tions, of deeply-felt, instinctive passions”,7 attention to Hesse, later raising him to the from which he was to incessantly draw his rank of a true classical modern writer, capa- melancholy. That sublime “poetry of wan- ble of crossing the geographic and cultural dering” 8 which constitutes the leitmotiv of boundaries in which his works were con- all Hesse’s works is tethered to the innocent ceived to become a heritage of world litera- years of childhood, the assiduous pursuit of ture. free and direct contact with nature. And it is precisely on a worldwide scale that From his fourth to his ninth year of age, the 125th anniversary of Hesse’s birth and Hesse’s parents moved temporarily to Basel the 40th anniversary of his death is celebrat- where the “stateless” Hermann, who until ed this year. This double anniversary has then had travelled on a Russian passport, provided the occasion for a close-packed obtained Swiss citizenship. After the family series of events co-ordinated in various returned to Germany, he became a German countries: Germany, Italy, Switzerland and citizen, and later reacquired Swiss citizen- even India.3 ship when, as an adult, he took up perma- Hesse, who believed that there was “nothing nent residence in Montagnola, in the more obnoxious […], nothing more stupid Canton of Ticino. than boundaries”,4 would have undoubtedly We can surmise, also from this bureaucratic been delighted with such a “global” celebra- whirligig, that Hesse travelled a great deal. tion, even though, known as he was for his In fact, during the first half of his life he shy, reserved disposition, the magnificence often set out on journeys capable of reliev-

Hesse and his friend that such events bring with them would ing the peaceful monotony of his life, seek- Othmar Schoeck on the have probably left him bewildered. ing food for his restless soul in far off lands. way to Castiglione del Hesse’s deep-rooted internationalism which Hesse the traveller shunned the hackneyed Lago during the journey to Italy in April 1911 throughout his life rendered him totally tourist resorts, admiring more the natural

[XIII] Hermann Hesse

enchantment of the reflections in the uineness of life, under the ennobling tradi- lagoon rather than the splendour of the tion of a history and a classical civilisation” 10 Doge’s Palace, conversing with a simple which incited him to return frequently to peasant family rather than talking at length the peninsular. in the Uffizi Gallery, filling pages and pages From his real journeys and from those taken of his notebooks and often translating the by his literary characters, Hesse also suc- impressions he got, not only in travel diaries ceeded so well in singing the praises – if we such as From India (1913) or Journey to may be allowed this little parochialism – of Nuremberg (1927), but also in numerous the “majestic, deeply undulating terraced stories and poems. hills scattered with vineyards” 11 of the So many of his journeys lead southward Valtellina and its products, that, to soothe that, Volker Michels, the curator of Hesse’s the afflictions of the soul, Peter Camenzind work recalls, with Teutonic precision, that (1904), the “son of the mountain” of the throughout his whole life the writer had novel of the same name which made Hesse never spent a single month above 50° lati- famous and economically independent, tude, nor had he ever ventured further indulged with perturbing frequency in the north than Bremen.9 “sharp and exhilarating taste” of the red Hesse’s favourite destination was Italy, wine of Valtellina, believing this beverage to Hesse in in 1906 where he went into raptures over that “gen- be capable – who needs L.S.D.! – of making

[XIV] “Beyond pictures and stories”

him work magic, create and compose poetry. layabout of Eichendorff, but who in the end This does not mean that Camenzind should mournfully senses the frailty of life. be written off as a simple drunkard, although Journeying towards themselves are also even he considers himself such during those characters inhabiting Hesse’s world moments of discouragement. On the contrary, who preferred a “contemplative life” rather the book refers to the noble tradition of the than an “active life”. We recall the moody “”, the psychological novel musician Kuhn in Gertrude (1910) – the in German – which includes such master- novel less loved by Hesse – and the painter pieces as Wilhelm Meister by Goethe, Henry Veraguth in Rosshalde (1914), who are more Von Ofterdingen by Novalis and Green Henry or less resignedly aware of the contrast by Keller – which narrates the progress of between their personal artistic ambitions self-education of a young man who leaves and the unimaginative world in which they his village to venture out in the world, im- live. Two novels which, together, form the pelled by restlessness and a craving to fulfil outcome of Hesse’s reflections on the role of his artistic aspirations and in so doing, the artist and his family conflicts during the through the various experiences of life, builds period he spent in Gaienhofen on the shores his own personality, animated and possessed of Lake Constance (1901 – 1912) when, by “Streben”, the romantic yearning for re- prompted by a desire to flee the city, which conciliation between individual poetry and at that time was quite popular in Germany “prose of the world”.14 This gives us an insight and already discernible in Peter Camenzind, into how the theme of Travel should be con- he fooled himself into believing he could strued in Hesse’s work not only in the geo- lead a sedentary rustic life with his first wife graphical sense, but also and primarily as a and their three children, but experienced metaphor of the necessary and painful inner only repulsion for what was substantially a path towards achieving “Heimat”, the spiri- life characterised by oppressing middle- tual homeland, one’s point of equilibrium and class tranquillity. stable harmony. Also on a journey is Josef Knecht, the leg- Hesse’s wayfarer is the one who, like Emil endary “Magister Ludi” of The Glass Bead Sinclair in Demian (1919), bears impressed Game (1943), not so much for his numerous upon him “the brand of Cain”,15 the brand of excursions in and outside of the pedagogical the searcher and of he who is inwardly province of Castalia, the utopian state mod- grieved by the clash between his own indi- viduality and the civilian world, the one who, delving restlessly into his own uncon- scious, yearns to attain that real life, that authentic life which lies concealed behind the curtain of illusions, behind the inces- sant flow of appearances and which alone can hearten those painfully aware of the tragic sentiment of human frailty. On a journey is the highly-cultured vagrant Hermann Lauscher (1901), a novel still somewhat immature and at times marked by a certain mannered aestheticism, which nonetheless already expresses Hesse’s typi- cal themes. Also journeying, or rather flee- Title-page and flyleaf of the first Italian edition ing, is the dishonest clerical worker of the of Il giuoco delle perle Klein and Wagner (1920), or the di vetro (The Glass Bead Game) (Milan, tormented Harry Haller in Steppenwolf Mondadori, 1955), with (1927), as well as the fascinating Goldmund dedication in Hesse’s own handwriting to his in (1930), the neighbour Celestina elder brother of that likeable vagabond Daccò (Montagnola, Knulp (1915) who apparently roams around Hermann Hesse 16 Museum) “free, happy and good for nothing” like the

[XV] Hermann Hesse

elled on the surroundings of Ticino in which follow his own individual path in solitude, the novel is set, but for the spiritual path adverse to all authority, first and foremost which leads him to perform his last and that of the school vehemently criticised in most sublime deed as a servant17 and educa- Beneath the Wheel (1906) which, together tor, not in the palaces of a noble but arid with The Confusions of Young Torless by Order of the Spirit, but outside of it and out published the same year, con- there in the world. In his Panic immersion stitutes a harsh attack on the oppressive in an Alpine lake and his self-sacrifice, he conformism of the collegial institution. This thus brings to completion – the Hegelian early novel by Hesse – the fruits of the liter- citation of the famous paradox of the ary elaboration of his scholastic experience Servant, who in the sacrifice of work and that of his brother Hans – starts from becomes Master of his own Master, is clear – the incidental vicissitudes of the seminarian the education of the young Tito Designori.18 Hans Giebenrath and his friend Heilner (the And above all, on a journey is Siddhartha symbolic recurrence of names beginning (1922), the son of a Brahman who abandons with H.H. is typical of Hesse’s works), and his father’s house to join the penitent her- ends up in a general accusation against mits, and later experiences the erotic joys of school education as such which, consecrat- the courtesan Kamala and finally finds peace ed to the motto of “breaking the spirit” of spending his old age next to the enlightened the pupil, aims at turning the future adult Vasuveda. “I am going nowhere. I am only on into a tractable mechanism of the social a journey. I am wandering” 19 is Siddhartha’s machine. Many years later, with the charac- reply to Govinda, the friend who asks him ter of the “Magister Ludi” Josef Knecht, where he is heading, without understanding Hesse created that ideal of an enlightened that the final destination of Siddhartha’s teacher, who alone could have saved little long search is “nothing more than a state of Hans from the state of despair which con- mind, an ability, a secret art of thinking at sumes and annihilates him.

any instant, right in the middle of life, the The myth of the Wayfarer reaches its climax Staging of Siddhartha thought of unity, of feeling unity and, so to in The Journey to the East (1932), the fasci- at the in 20 Milan during the season speak, of breathing it”. nating story of that ideal “communion of 1999-2000 under the The Vagabond, or better still, the Seeker, as souls” already touched upon in Demian and direction of Lamberto 21 Puggelli, with Massimo Hesse defines himself , is the one who, feel- later mentioned by Hesse in his speech after Foschi in the role of ing himself alien to the civilian world and being awarded the Nobel Prize. This ideal Siddhartha and Claudia not understood by it, decides to relegate was constantly cherished also by Friedrich Carlone in the role of Kamala himself to its furthermost boundaries and Nietzsche: an academy of the free spirits of

[XVI] “Beyond pictures and stories”

all times and all latitudes on the move collective unconscious and numerous ses- through space and through the centuries at sions of psychoanalysis. the service – let us remember Knecht – of In fact, many of Hesse’s characters live con- peace and human harmony whose final des- stantly in unstable equilibrium in the bor- tination, as related by the violinist H.H., the derland between the conscious and the central character of the Pilgrimage, “was unconscious, between the two worlds in not merely a geographical entity but the which little Emil Sinclair grows up and in homeland and the youth of the soul. It was the bottomless pit in which Klein flounders, the Everywhere and the Nowhere, the unifi- constantly on the brink of insanity. Another cation of all times”.22 Xenophon, Plato, Lao- example is Klingsor (1920), whose surrealistic tse, Novalis and all the other great artists painting enables the artist to go back through and men of thought, past, present and all the stages of the depths and above all the future, all the great writers of the crushing into a thousand “multiplicities of “Weltliteratur” together with their charac- psychic nuclei” 25 of the “crazy” Harry Haller, ters, are those pilgrims to whose memory who struggles continuously lacerated in an Hesse was to dedicate – in a refined self- impossible existence, simultaneously within referring game – The Glass Bead Game, the and outside of middle-class society, courteous great senile work devoted to the noble spir- and educated, intellectual but also a ferocious itual order of Castalia, understood by the nocturnal beast.26 writer as a utopian contrast to the barbarous With Steppenwolf Hesse takes up a critical reality of the Nazi Reich.23 stance against his previous novels such as The motive of the spiritual journey was Peter Camenzind and Gertrude, in which, in enhanced in particular with mythological spite of everything, he now perceives a hint and psychoanalytical themes in the works of insincerity. While Camenzind and Kuhn, following the profound crisis that Hesse suf- aware of their status of misfits in life, timo- Hermann Hesse, fered during the years of the First World rously shut themselves off in noble silence, View over Lake War,24 from which he recovered thanks to Harry Haller on the contrary leaps into the Ceresio, watercolour, 1924 his interest in the Jungian theories on the abyss and looks the depths of his soul straight

[XVII] Hermann Hesse

Here then is the meaning of so many recur- ring symbols and themes in Hesse’s prose. Another example is the metaphor of the dream, together with the lucid awareness of the limits of speech. Powerful though it may be, language can do nothing more than deduce from the use of concepts, definitions which mark out the boundaries of thought but which are inevitably forced to limit it. Dreams, on the contrary, are capable of giv- ing “freedom to contemporaneously experi- ence all imaginable things, to exchange for fun the inside and the outside, to make time and space roll by like moving scenes”.29 Through their magic, reality is transformed, grows hazy, loses the rigidity of dialogical thought and acquires that multiplicity and mystery capable of turning an omega into a snake, as happens to the young Goldmund when he drowsily studies Greek, thinking that it would please his studious friend Narcissus who, on the contrary, under- stands his friend’s need to follow his by leaving the monastery of Mariabronn – a variation of Maulbronn, the college where Hermann Hesse and Hans Giebenrath stud- ied – to throw himself into the arms of life, women and nature. Yet another example is music and water, in the eyes. But this “dialogue with the uncon- vital presences in Hesse’s works, perfect scious”,27 A Glimpse into Chaos (1920) which symbols of serene harmony and of being in reveals the futility of all order and the inter- becoming. changeableness of all the adversities which In almost all Hesse’s novels we find the destroy life, is the bringer of a cathartic effect water of a river flowing free and impetuous, capable of revealing that the conflicts of life, or the stretch of water of an uncontaminat- the division between Spirit and Nature, ed Alpine lake lying deep and still. Very often between Good and Evil, between Yin and Yang we also perceive, riding and hovering poised are nothing more than a veil of Maya conceal- between heaven and earth, one or many ing the unity of Everything. clouds, “eternal symbol of travel, pursuit, In fact, only through a glimpse into the abyss desire and nostalgia”,30 as Camenzind remarks is it possible to reach that “Primigenial in his beautiful poem to nature, confident Mother” towards whom all Hesse’s characters that there is no other man in the world who tend, whether they are conscious of it or not: loves clouds more than he. that original womb in which all individual Feminine and maternal, water encompasses identities cease to ache, and return to merge the opposites like the original womb of the in an undifferentiated common origin.28 Mother,31 and it is to her that not only the The “brand of Cain” that Emil Sinclair and his clerk Klein or the probable suicide Hans friend and alter-ego Demian bear impressed Giebenrath, but also the legendary Knecht upon them is nothing other than the mark of who, in another life, was also the Rain Chaos (from the Greek α´ os, or also chasm, Magician, commit themselves, ending their or yawning abyss), the brand of the chosen worldly life. ones who have glimpsed into the abyss of He who, like the boatman Vasuveda of Autograph letter from Thomas Mann to human existence and managed to discern its Siddhartha, is able to hear the music of the Hermann Hesse dated indescribable harmony. river, is the one who has perceived the Being 2nd August 1916

[XVIII] “Beyond pictures and stories”

behind the eternal and ever-changing flow- remarks Father David Maria Turoldo, is for ing of the waves and possesses the smile of Hesse and his characters the highest expres- one enlightened. sion of contact with universal harmony. And a smile is also on the lips of his musician Hence, the sublime The Glass Bead Game, friend Pablo, who is really the immortal noble capacity to combine into a single Mozart, who, together with his sensual and melody the vastest spheres of truth, justice mysterious girlfriends Maria and Erminia, and beauty, cannot fail to rest upon and draw sets the Wolf of the Steppe on the road to its origins precisely from this art. And where recovery, by making him recognise, behind music is reduced to the strident and un- the crackling of an old radio, his immortal gracious scraping of a violin, it means that no music, that “wordless language that expresses harmony reigns, as was the case in the gloomy the inexpressible and represents the unrepre- seminary of Maulbronn in Beneath the Wheel, sentable”.33 where an incompetent boarding school pupil Music is the absolute art which fascinates and stubbornly insists upon scraping the poor deeply moves Emil Sinclair, Hermann Lauscher instrument, merely making an idiot of him- and Josef Knecht, who, in the unfinished pro- self. ject of his fourth life, finds in her what his Pietist upbringing had never been able to give him. The finest description of Hesse’s prose, com- Music “universe of all expression of the soul, pared precisely to a musical composition, was supreme language of the divine nature”,34 as left to us by Hesse himself, in the ironic and

Fountain in the court- yard of the monastery at Maulbronn, where Hesse studied for seven months between 1891 and 1892

[XIX] Hermann Hesse

acute story – adored by his friend Thomas But, even though a note rather than the oppo- Mann35 - with the curious title A Guest at the site sounds within them, the fate of all these Spa (1925): “If I were a musician – imagines wayfarers is unique and different for each of the writer – I could without any difficulty them. While Narcissus has chosen the path of write a melody for two voices, a melody com- contemplation, Goldmund follows the path of posed of two lines, of two sets of tones and art and sensual love. While the wolf Harry notes, which are in harmony, complete each Haller roams wild and anarchic on the other, struggle with each other, and condition Steppes, the “Magister Ludi” Josef Knecht each other […] and anyone who knew how to accomplishes the action with the intention of read a music score could read my double serving and preserving the Castalian Order, melody, would see and hear, the opposing even when he abandons his position as note, the sister note or hostile or antithetical teacher of the Game leaving the splendid ped- note of each note. Well, it is precisely this, this agogic province. double vocality, this antithesis in eternal Hesse never tires in showing us that to reach motion, this double line that I would like to “Heimat” the only road to take is the spiritual express with the material I have at my dispos- path of our own . This is why, when al, namely with words, and I am desperately Siddhartha meets Buddha, he admires and working on it, and I am unable to do so”.36 respects Gotama exceedingly, but does not In fact, all the couples depicted by the writer, become his disciple, as does his friend such as Narcissus and Goldmund, Veraguth Govinda, but continues to go his own way, and Burkhardt, Muoth and Kuhn, Siddhartha aware that only in this way can he be close to and Govinda, Sinclair and Demian, Knecht the Venerable One. and Designori form a melody for two voices That of Hermann Hesse is a lesson on free- played in the attempt to represent the mythi- dom and responsibility, simple and touching cal ideal man who finally manages to unite as are all the great truths of human wisdom: the two poles of existence, living in harmony be yourself, go your own way, because “a Hermann Hesse, between Eros and Logos, between the father can give his son a nose and eyes, and Houses in Apollonian and Dionysian spirit, beyond all perhaps intelligence, but not a soul. This is Montagnola, gouache, 1920 separation, in the primordial divine unity.37 new in every man”.

[XX] “Beyond pictures and stories”

* Doctor of Political Economics at Milan’s “Luigi Bocconi” University and student in Philosophy and at the Heidelberg University. (e-mail: [email protected])

1 23 Cf. G. DECKER, Hesse-ABC, Leipzig, , 2002, p. 187. Cf. H. HESSE, letter to Thomas Mann dated 23rd October 1946 2 Phenomena such as these are known as “creative misunderstan- in H. HESSE e T. MANN, Carteggio (correspondence), trad. di R. dings” and are the delight of scholars of comparative literature. RONCARATI, Milano, SE, 2001, p. 197. Translated from the Italian by 3 Cf. www.hesse2002.de. Barbara Ferrett Rogers. 4 24 H. HESSE, Wanderung, Frankfurt am Main, Suhrkamp, 1975, In addition to being appalled at Europe torn to pieces by the p. 9. Translated from the Italian by Barbara Ferrett Rogers. Nationalists, in the “annus horribilis” 1916 Hesse loses his father, 5 B. ZELLER, Hermann Hesse, Hamburg, Rowohlt, 2001, p. 40. his first wife is admitted to a nursing home for mental disorders 6 H. HESSE, Hermann Lauscher, trad. di E. BANCHELLI, Milano, and his son Martin falls seriously ill. 25 SugarCo, 1991, p. 20. Translated from the Italian by Barbara Ferrett C. MAGRIS, Preface, cit., p. XXXIII. 26 Rogers. M.P. CRISANAZ PALIN, Introductory note to H. HESSE, Demian, in 7 E. BANCHELLI, in H. HESSE, Hermann Lauscher, cit., p. 8. Romanzi, cit., p. 301. 8 27 C. MAGRIS, Preface to Romanzi, Milano, Mondadori, 1977, p. XXV. H. HESSE, Blick ins Chaos, Berlin, Seldwyla, 1920, p. 13. Trans- 9 Cf. V. MICHELS, Preface to H. HESSE, Il Viandante (the journeyer), lated from the Italian by Barbara Ferrett Rogers. 28 trad. di F. SOLINAS, Milano, Mondadori, 1993, p. 6. B. BIANCHI, Introduction to H. HESSE, Sull’amore (About Love), 10 H. HESSE, Peter Camenzind, trad. di E. POCAR, Milano, Mondadori, Milano, Mondadori, 1988, p. 6. 29 1980, p. 66. Translated from the Italian by Barbara Ferrett Rogers. H. HESSE, Il Pellegrinaggio in Oriente, cit., p. 26. Translated from 11 H. HESSE, Esperienze in Engadina (experiences in Engadine), in the Italian by Barbara Ferrett Rogers. 30 Il Viandante, cit., p. 308. Translated from the Italian by Barbara H. HESSE, Peter Camenzind, cit., p. 13. Translated from the Italian Ferrett Rogers. by Barbara Ferrett Rogers. 12 31 H. HESSE, Peter Camezind, cit., p. 43. Translated from the Italian Cf. B. BIANCHI, op. cit., p. 6. by Barbara Ferrett Rogers. 32 Note how the verb listen – a listening obviously of the soul and 13 Ibidem, p. 56. not of the senses – already appears in the title of Hesse’s first novel, 14 C. MAGRIS, Fra il Danubio e il mare, Milano, Garzanti, 2001, p. 15. the previously mentioned Hermann Lauscher, since Lauscher in 15 H. HESSE, Demian, trad. di E. POCAR, in Romanzi, cit., p. 433. German means “the listener”. 33 Translated from the Italian by Barbara Ferrett Rogers. H. HESSE, Il lupo della steppa (Steppenwolf), trad. di E. POCAR, 16 C. MAGRIS, Preface, cit., p. XXV. Milano, Mondadori, 1996, p. 127. Translated from the Italian by 17 Knecht in German means servant. Barbara Ferrett Rogers. 18 34 Cf. H. HESSE, letter to Rolf v. Hoerschelmann dated 22nd February D.M. TUROLDO in G. RAVASI, Il Canto della Rana, Casale 1944 in Ausgewählte Briefe, Frankfurt am Main, Suhrkamp, 1974, Monferrato, Piemme 1990, p. 13. 35 p. 208. Translated from the Italian by Barbara Ferrett Rogers. T. M ANN, in H. HESSE e T. MANN, op.cit., p. 153. Translated from 19 H. HESSE, Siddharta (Siddhartha), trad. di M. MILA, Milano, the Italian by Barbara Ferrett Rogers. 36 Adelphi, 1994, p. 131. Translated from the Italian by Barbara Ferrett H. HESSE, Psicologia Balneare (A Guest at the Spa), trad. di Rogers. I.A. CHIUSANO, in Altri Romanzi e Poesie, Milano, Mondadori, 20 Ibidem, p. 175. 1996, p. 481. Translated from the Italian by Barbara Ferrett Rogers. 21 37 Cf. H. HESSE, letter to Vasant Ghaneker dated April 1953 in Aus- Cf. H. HESSE, Der Ideale Mensch, in Eigensinn macht Spaß, gewählte Briefe, cit., p. 405. Translated from the Italian by Barbara Ebner Ulm, Insel, 2002, p. 105 s. Translated from the Italian by Ferrett Rogers. Barbara Ferrett Rogers. 22 38 H. HESSE, Il Pellegrinaggio in Oriente (The Journey to the H. HESSE, Knulp, trad. di E. POCAR, in Romanzi, cit., p. 257. East), trad. di E. POCAR, Milano, Adelphi, 2002, p. 25. Translated from Translated from the Italian by Barbara Ferrett Rogers. the Italian by Barbara Ferrett Rogers.


“Beyond pictures and stories”

Hermann Hesse, Switzerland, Italy and Ticino

by Giuseppe Curonici*

Hermann Hesse, Lake and hills (details), watercolour, 1924 Hermann Hesse

Hermann Hesse is one of the most interna- dotes, but concern some of the most intense tionally translated writers, and the most inspiring forces at work in the soul of the widely read among his contemporaries. After author. To understand their significance, it the normal or condensed editions at the is necessary to insert the image that Hesse beginning of his career, he won immense had of Italy and Ticino into the whole of his acknowledgement during the second half of production throughout his entire life; in the Twentieth century. addition it is necessary to consider other ref- Many of the subjects dealt with by Hesse can erences which, however far away they may be easily interpreted in a universal sense, and be (how far away is India?) emerge from the is able to identify with them. One same insuppressible requirement of the of these is truly fundamental: seeking and soul: the search for the spiritual homeland. building one’s own personality. The second is We have to bring this idea of and nonetheless important: the ability to see all internationality clearly into focus together. the evil possible, to feel it on oneself in one’s Let us say first of all what it is not. It is not own life, and at the same time the need or the equalisation, it is not cosmopolitanism, it is strength not to give way to panic, to the not cultural tourism like a generic practice temptations of , or to the loss of val- of switching from one place to another and ues. These are also a few of the reasons why from one philosophy to another out of fatu- Hesse’s work aroused particular attention ous curiosity or due to the inability to stay among young people. His portrait of the man put in one place; it is not the non-commit- in a state of crisis, Steppenwolf, represents tal attitude of those who deny faith or the the conflicts and the decline in values of truth. Vice versa, Hesse’s attitude is toler- Western civilisation in the first half of the ance or rather brotherhood. He respected Twentieth century. This could hold good for differences, other people’s thoughts and anybody, also in other times and places. conscience, acknowledged that what is Another remarkable aspect is his internation- missing in one civilisation can be learned or, al approach. Although Hesse is undoubtedly a we could even go so far as to say, imported German author, the reference to different from different cultures. A European author cultures emerges continuously in his works. comes to the Italian-speaking part of Aspiration after inner peace and harmony Switzerland to write an Indian story in with others and with the world – aspiration, German, Siddhartha, which dates back to and not the foolish presumption that it can 1922 and seems as though it was written be easily possessed – is the theme of yesterday. A special kind of joy unfolds when Siddhartha, The Journey to the East, and we discover that from thousands of kilome- The Glass Bead Game, and it is developed in tres away and thousands of years ago similar a sort of non-dogmatic religiousness in callings arose, as in the figures of Buddha which Christian spirituality, love and worship and St. Francis. of nature, Indian traditions, and Chinese tra- ditions converge. Hess emerged whole and Hesse’s cultural geography unscathed from the Nazi period. He preached We are faced with a question mark: how did peace, accepting to live through many years Hesse come to incorporate these prospects of of hardship rather than submit. He had cultural pluralism into his personality and become a symbol of the German culture into his production? Where and when did elected upon the rebirth of European civil life Hesse begin to concentrate on unifying so after the scorching ashes of the war. Besides many directions? for his merits as a writer, it is most likely also The historical answer can be found at number for this political-historical-ethical reason 21 Missionstrasse, in Basel. This city was that he was awarded the Nobel Prize, precise- important for Hesse, because it was the gate- ly in 1946, the period of the rebuilding. way to intercontinental culture, and the occa- sion of his entry into Switzerland. An international horizon and a The Pietist religious movements which coming and going around Basel branched out over the centuries between Hesse’s relations with Italy and Canton Germany and Switzerland, were reformed in Ticino are not merely geographical anec- 1815 in Basel to form a missionary society: the

[XXIV] “Beyond pictures and stories”

Evangelische Missionsgesellschaft, referred to remained for five years. The family acquired more briefly as Basler Mission, which is still in Swiss citizenship in 1883, but in 1886 full operation today. The celebrated Indologist returned to Calw. However, in 1890 the Doctor Hermann Gundert, director of the mis- young Hermann Hesse, who was born sion in India, at Malabar, was Hermann Russian and became Swiss, was granted Hesse’s maternal grandfather. He was an German citizenship, more precisely citizen- important cultural mediator, the author of ship of Wuerttemberg, to be able to sit for translations of parts of the Bible, and of an the State examination and continue his English- vocabulary. After return- studies in theology in Tubingen. The follow- ing to Europe, in 1860 he became director of ing year he entered boarding-school in the missionary publishing house in Calw, Maulbronn. After seven months he ran away, linked to Basel. Later on, Gundert’s daughter then staged an attempted suicide. He Marie returned from India. The Calw editions worked as an apprentice clockmaker, then were entrusted to the young Protestant minis- thought of running away again, but further ter Johannes Hesse, who had also been a mis- afield. He was thinking of Brazil. sionary in India. Johannes was German-speak- At this point we can understand the great sig- ing but of Russian nationality, because he nificance that all that complicated coming and came from Estonia, one of the German-speak- going around Basel had for Hesse: a multiva- ing Baltic provinces belonging to the Empire lent and profound encounter. The , of the Tsars. Johannes Hesse married Marie which presented Christianity primarily as a Gundert; Hermann Hesse was born in Calw in spiritual experience; the spiritual upright- 1877, and was a Russian citizen. ness of the missionaries; the contact with Hesse and his first wife In 1881 the family moved to Basel, because India and in general a far-reaching sense of Maria Bernoulli in Johannes Hesse had been appointed professor intercultural relations and tolerance; his Gaienhofen on Lake Constance at the Basler Mission school, where he entry into Switzerland, the intermediate stage

[XXV] Hermann Hesse

before settling in Ticino. is Honolulu. We have nothing to object, as In Basel, he began to publish poetry and long as he explains something. worked as a bookseller. In 1901 he left for Italy. Between the nineteenth and twentieth cen- He reappeared three months later. In 1903, he tury, Western civilisation was shaken, or went on his second journey to Italy, with Maria rather, overwhelmed by new events of enor- Bernoulli whom he married the following mous significance. Industry became mass year. They went to live in Gaienhofen, on the industrialised civilisation. Living conditions shores of Lake Constance where their three changed. Economic growth and social con- children were born. In 1911, together with his flicts became more intense. Nationalistic painter friend Hans Sturzenegger, he left for rivalries were paving the way for the First the Indies, on a journey of acquaintance and World War. Colonialism was spreading culture. In 1912 Hesse moved to Berne, and throughout the world and laying the founda- from that moment until the end he remained tions for the present-day globalisation. domiciled in Switzerland. In 1919 he settled Cultural and psychological hardship became permanently in Ticino. more acute: the changeover from a simple rural life to a technological civilisation, amidst Where is Eden? enthusiasm and suffering, conformism and For some very respectable reason, Eden is in rebellion, prompted a radical change of life- India, or in the Lake District, or in Italy. It’s style. For some, it even meant bringing back exactly the same thing. In 1927, for Hesse’s ethnic traditions. To others, it appeared to be fiftieth birthday, his writer friend the target of the social revolution. For quite a (who was the cultural moving spirit of substantial number of intellectuals and artists, Dadaism) published the first biographical- an almost individual, deeply-felt aspiration Hermann Hesse, critical monograph on Hesse, and in that was the search for pure, uncontaminated Casa Camuzzi, watercolour, 1926 excellent book he affirmed that Montagnola places, where they could live an authentic

[XXVI] “Beyond pictures and stories”

life, amidst the unsullied forces of nature, case of Hesse, who nevertheless did not give which is greater and more profound than the much thought to classical antiquity and not cities of men. even to Christian antiquity (in fact, he never In substance, it means setting out on a jour- ever went to Rome); on the contrary, what he ney and seeking elsewhere a possible Earthly was keenly interested in was the country, the Paradise, which resembles the inexpressible people, and art from the end of the Middle and indescribable spiritual homeland. The Ages up to his day and age. English writer Stevenson moved to the Ticino. Hill of Montagnola overlooking Lake South Sea Islands. The painter Gauguin went Lugano, is the synthesis of an imaginary to Brittany and then to Tahiti and the Eden with an actual village. It offers the dual Marquesan Islands. Nietsche went up to advantage of being at one and the same time Engadine. Giovanni Segantini went from the close to Central Europe and still close to rus- Brera Academy of Art to the farmsteads of tic nature. This is the place where Hesse Maloja. Van Gogh went to Provence. Cézanne accomplished the culminating part of his had already taken refuge at his home, also in work, at a ripe old age and until the end of his Provence. Others went to the fishing villages days. on the Côte d’Azur, whose features had not yet been changed by the tourist industry. One Journeys to Italy group of philosophers and artists went up to Discovering Italy was a wonderful existen- the mountain of , and the mountain of tial, not only cultural, experience enjoyed by the philosophers was Monte Verità. After the Hesse at the beginning of the 20th century. First World War, a new influx arrived in His first journey to Italy is documented by a Ascona – now they were painters and writers. Diary and other texts of a descriptive or These are just a few famous examples: in fact, autobiographical nature. Hesse’s works Aus the movement was scattered throughout var- Italien, collected by Volker Michels (Frank- ious parts of Europe. furt a.M., 1983), were published under the At that time, Ticino, one of the poorest terri- tories in Switzerland, was still almost com- pletely at a stage of pre-industrial civilisation. Its assimilation to a Utopian land, to an Eden, was possible. For Hesse, it also took on the value of a need and a remedy, mainly due to the accumulation of distressing circum- stances, which we will mention shortly. In reality, to Hesse’s eyes, India, Italy and Ticino had one feature in common: the place of primordial values, the religious sense of nature, the spontaneous way of life, the har- mony between man and nature, at least as a Utopian Edenic image. However, once we have ascertained the common core, we have to consider the differential elements. India. In the case of India, Hesse was influ- Postcard from Hermann enced by his childhood acquisitions, the Hesse to his father, dated Venice 2nd May household tradition, the presence of wide- 1901: "Fondest regards spread spiritual cultural systems, alternative to you and to every- body! I am staying at to the European system and especially to the house of Miss materialistic conformism. Hüller in Venice: Fondamenta Fenice Italy. For the image of Italy, another tradition 2551. I am well, despite is at work, that of the man of German culture a cold and I am content. Letters etc. here, please. who tends towards the country of classical Yours affectionately, antiquity and art. An impulse to move Hermann" towards the south, a south which is nature (Marbach, Deutsches Literaturarchiv) and culture. This also applies precisely in the

[XXVII] Hermann Hesse

[XXVIII] “Beyond pictures and stories”

title From Italy, by Eva Banchelli (Milan, ing. However, at least once he spoke clearly 1990). He departed from Calw in the evening about the historical change, towards the end of Monday the 25th of March 1901 and of his work on St. Francis and Francisca- arrived in Milan on Tuesday at half past nism, in 1904, when he mentioned Giotto, eleven in the evening. He visited Pavia, Genoa, acknowledging him as an extraordinary Florence, Pisa, Pistoia, Prato, Leghorn and innovator: “Giotto in particular, the first great other places, returned to Florence and painter of the modern age, was impelled to remained there until the 28th of April. Then such depth precisely by his gratitude and by he went to Ravenna, Padua, Venice, the his deep love for Francis and his spirituality”. Lagoon, the Lido. He took leave of Venice on After the two fundamental journeys of dis- the 17th of May, and stopped one day in Milan covery, in 1901 and 1903, attested by his to see Brera. Saturday evening “at half past diaries, Hesse came down from the North to ten I boarded the St. Gotthard train”. The Italy several times, preferably in the compa- customs procedures in Chiasso annoyed ny of a friend. However, the accumulation of him. Near Lugano he fell asleep. The after- museum and historical information, subtly noon of Sunday the 19th of May he arrived and little by little began to interest him less. back in Calw. He appreciated people, the population, the He had conscientiously prepared himself environment, the way of life which appeared before the journey. He had studied the to him to be less strenuous and artificial Italian language and the history of art. than in his own country. A rhythm of life The entire diary is crammed with works and closer to natural spontaneity. The text A artists. Architecture, sculpture, and antiqui- Day’s Journey in Italy, written in 1913, gives ty take a slightly secondary place compared a conclusive judgement. “Apart from the dif- to the space occupied by paintings. Here the ferences and fascinating contrasts between young writer’s interest was extremely accen- peoples and countries, I will always, and with tuated, and his sensitivity keen and sharp. ever-increasing clarity, be met by a unitary He dwelled continuously upon the richness feeling of humanity”. of the colour, not only for the effects of per- ception, but for the closely connected cul- Italian language and literature tural significance. 10th of April, Pitti Palace. Italian was apparently the only foreign lan- “I again sit at length in front of Titian’s guage that Hesse knew well, and his second Caterina. The truly exceptional thing about language after his mother tongue. Today, the painting is the total unity of the shades, the proprietor of the bookshop Fuchs and which is for the most part missing in Tuscan Reposo, the Wega bookshop, in via Nassa in paintings, a unity in which the light, figures, Lugano, recalls that as a young girl she landscape, etc. are chords of equal intensity”. often saw that tall, thin, extremely courte- His flair for feeling pictorially is exceptional, ous gentleman, who spoke German or Postcard to Paul Schoeck from Assisi, and so much so that we find it also when, sometimes Italian with a German accent, spring 1911; Hesse was instead of describing paintings, he describes enter the shop. There are also people in travelling with the rd musician Othmar real landscapes. 23 of April: “From the Montagnola who still remember him. When Schoeck and the Bridge of Graces, a wonderful view over the one of his German friends went to visit him, composer Fritz Brun. "This convent in Assisi River Arno which, from a clear dark green at Hesse acted as his guide. At the Cavicc tav- is the most beautiful the top, after passing under the bridges fur- ern or the Bellavista restaurant, he acted as thing one could ever ther down, mirrored all the colours of the interpreter between Thomas Mann and the see! Ah Assisi! Strolling through the streets (?!) evening”. owner’s wife. We should bear in mind that I hear + find here An enormous cultural revolution took place Hesse learned Italian, not after settling in everything there is to be found in the Italian in Tuscany, the transition from the the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland, but song book [by H.Wolf]! Mediaeval to the Modern Age. Hesse paid lit- many years earlier. In fact, he had started Fondest wishes from your Othmar. tle attention to this historical event, even studying it even before the journey in 1901. After having drunk so though his preparation contained a master- At the beginning he obviously spoke Italian much Chianti all Othmar needs is a halo. piece of historical research, the very famous with a barbarous accent. His Diary of those Fritz Brun book on the Renaissance by Jakob Burck- event-filled months gives us various bits of But we need Chianti hardt. Instead, Hesse concentrated mainly, information. more than we need a th halo. Hesse" from time to time, on the individual paint- Milan, Wednesday 27 March: “Dinner in a

[XXIX] Hermann Hesse

little trattoria (macheroni con sugo)”. All Italian authors directly, wrote articles in those maccheroni needed was a “c”. “The German on their work, and published trans- whole family, cat included, sat at the table lations-revisions. Several of his German ver- with me and laughed at my Italian”. sions of pages from Little Flowers of St. Thursday 28th, in Pavia, a stop at a country Francis were referred to by Eva Banchelli as tavern: “simple, easy-going people who were translation and adaptation, or free adapta- very kind to me and laughed at my Italian”. tion. The reason why Hesse admired St. He arrived in Florence and was given hospi- Francis is clear: he corresponded very close- tality at the home of Professor Thurnheer. ly to the model of Christian spirituality that Easter, 7th April: Professor Thurnheer “has he had contemplated and interiorised from kindly provided me with literature on early childhood through the intense devout- Florence”, but on Friday Hesse had already ness of his parents and famous grandfather purchased a classic of Italian Rennaissance Gundert. A young man from a rich and hon- literature, Vite by Vasari. Three weeks later, oured family, after having tasted the spices Sunday 28th April, he was lunching with the of life, gives up everything, chooses poverty, Thurnheers, and wrote: “With them I only inner spirituality, and becomes a monk. speak Italian”. On the 17th of May, on his way Who does this biographical profile repre-

back home, he conversed on the train from sent? The son of the middle-class family of Milan to Venice with an Englishman. “We Assisi, Francis? Or the son of the rich man spoke half in Italian and half in German. of Kapilavastu, Buddha? Or an abstract model Then we were joined by a lady from Venice of conversion? In 1904 Hesse published two with a pretty daughter and we all chatted biographical works, one on Boccaccio, and together in Italian”. one on St. Francis. To be quite truthful, they The second important journey to Italy was in are two very different characters, placed side 1903. He travelled in the company of Maria by side or in opposition with each other. In Bernouilli and her friend, the painter Gudrun, the novel he wrote in 1930, Narcissus and who was waiting for them at the station in Goldmund, the two protagonists are an Milan. In Florence he was given a room by ascetic monk and a sensual artist. Similar the Thurnheers, and the two girls found pairs of opposites emerge insistently in the accommodation nearby. On Tuesday 7th April works of the mature Hesse. The polarity, the he gave a display of his linguistic knowledge. contradiction of human life is one of the

Hesse as he paints in He chatted with the Thurnheers for an hour, themes that attracted him most. the neighbourhood of and concluded: “I was delighted that my rusty Hesse produced numerous articles for news- Montagnola in a Italian had begun to flow so well again”. papers and magazines, which ranged from photograph taken during the late Twenties Hesse read some of the most important stories to short essays and reviews of books.

[XXX] “Beyond pictures and stories”

We see him pass, with a free itinerary, choanalysis with Doctor Lang, the disciple of through many Italian names and authors: C.G. Jung. The initial and unexpected conse- Leonardo, Machiavelli, Pascoli (for whom he quence was the start of a new creative activ- remarked on the 5th of June 1914 in the ity. Doctor Lang advised his patient to take “Münchner Zeitung”: “Many of his delicate up drawing and painting, for therapeutic Poemetti are so full of musical resonance as purposes. Hesse produced self portraits in to make them seem impossible to translate”). black and white, and innumerable land- scapes, which rose to as many as three thou- In Ticino sand water colours in the space of ten or fif- Perhaps what Ticino was for Hermann Hesse teen years. They are almost all landscapes of indeed resembles the most attainable part of Ticino. His painting activity was at one and the Utopia of Eden. The writer settled there the same time physical and mental; his anx- permanently in 1919, but he had begun to iety melted into pictures. And the subject he get to know it, little by little, from as early as painted was, in a certain sense, the one most the start of the century. The most fleeting full of life, peace and majesty: the sky, lakes, glimpse he got of it was when he crossed it a few villages, trees, forests. Nature. on the train at full speed, on his journeys to Germany’s defeat was a psychological, moral Italy. In 1905 he made an excursion on foot and also financial catastrophe for him, due between Lake Como and Lake Lugano. Two to the inflation which wiped out his savings. years later he went to Ascona, on Monte The partially mastered crisis did not come to Verità, for physiotherapeutic treatment. an end; Hesse found a suitable arrangement From 1916 he made frequent visits to the for his three children, and decided to leave region of Locarno for short holidays, some- Berne, tear himself away from everything times to the lake and sometimes to the and start life anew, perhaps between Ascona, mountains, either alone or with friends. Arcegno and Ronco. But there was one The years coinciding with the First World amazing drawback! His wife, who had been War, and immediately after, were extremely temporarily discharged from the mental difficult for Hesse. During the conflict, he home, had decided to come to Ticino and devoted himself to charity work for German buy herself a house precisely in Ascona. prisoners of war. He suffered repeated violent Alarmed at the news, Hermann Hesse attacks in the newspapers, because he had changed his plans. He had to shift further south, on the shores of another lake, Lake Lugano. He stayed at a hotel in Sorengo, and after a few days discovered a home which fas- cinated him in the village of Montagnola. The architect Camuzzi, who had worked during the middle of the nineteenth century in St. Petersburg, upon returning to his homeland, had restructured a large farm- stead for himself, turning it into an eclectic- baroque-oriental palace. Here Hesse rented four rooms without heating. There was a fireplace, and a balcony. He set to work. His output during the first few years was fren- zied, then slowed down to a more relaxed pace. In 1931 Hesse, who still had some financial difficulties, was helped enormously voiced his opinion against Pan-Germanic by the patron Hans C. Bodmer, who had Casa militarism. One of his children fell ill, his Rossa built for him. It was here that the father died suddenly, and his wife had to be writer lived and worked until his death. admitted to a nursing home for a very seri- Montagnola was the cradle of his most ous psychiatric disorder. Since he himself famous works. One of them, Klingsor’s Last Hesse at work in the was in danger of losing his balance, and was Summer, is a story set in Casa Camuzzi: the garden of Casa Rossa around 1935 aware of it, in 1916 Hesse underwent psy- garden, and the landscape are

[XXXI] Hermann Hesse easily recognisable. The names of the places are anagrams of actual names: Manuzzo is Muzzano, Laguno is Lugano, Caruno means Carona. We feel we should point out some- thing very much alive: they are all places that can be reached from Montagnola on foot, there and back at the most in one day. This means that they are places felt directly by Hesse with his bodily presence. Hesse dedicated innumerable descriptive and auto- biographical pages to Ticino, the landscape, the people, the festivities, the churches and the villages. He was grateful to the land that had given him hospitality.

But what about the notice? One day a strict sign appeared on the gate post at the entrance to Casa Rossa: visitors are not wel- come. At that time, Hesse was the most famous writer in the world. He was seventy, eighty years old, and he was always being vis- ited by young people with sleeping-bags and guitars, and strangers from all corners of the world. What was he supposed to do, pay attention to dozens of visitors every day? At eighty? He closed the gate, out of self defence. But he didn’t let the conversation drop. He answered anyone who wrote to him. He wrote thirty-five thousand letters. In 1923 he had wanted to abandon his German citizenship, out of love for the German people and culture and out of con- tempt for the new black political factions which were about to plunge his country into a worse upheaval than the previous one. He wanted to become Swiss, Ticinese, he who had desired to learn Italian. The town coun- cil granted him honorary citizenship. He is buried in the cemetery of Gentilino.

* Art critic and literary critic. Formerly Professor of the Cantonal Liceo of Lugano and Director of the Cantonal Library of Lugano. Winner of the Bagutta Opera Prima Award, 2002.

[XXXII] “Beyond pictures and stories”

The Hermann Hesse Museum in Montagnola, a rendezvous

by Regina Bucher*

Hesse’s typewriter (Montagnola, Hermann Hesse Museum) Hermann Hesse

exhibition on the inhabitants of Montagnola and their relations with Hermann Hesse are scheduled for 2003. Audio-equipped areas are provided in the Museum, whereby it is possible to hear Hesse’s voice as he reads his texts or to listen to his favourite pieces of music. A small cinema features a documentary film in Italian, German and English, on the artist’s life in Ticino. The weekly lectures in Italian and German, followed by a discussion with the audience, as well as the walks through the places cherished by Hesse, the conferen- ces, concerts and various recitatives, help to make the visit to the Museum precious and enjoyable. The main purpose of the Foundation is to keep Hesse’s work alive, to promote aware- ness of the topicality of his literary works The Hermann Hesse Museum was inaugura- and characterise the spirit of the artist as ted on the 2nd of July 1997, to celebrate the transcending all boundaries. 120th anniversary of the artist’s birth, Nobel The Museum welcomes 20,000 visitors each Prize for literature in 1946, in the old Camuzzi year, and is thus an important cultural cen- Tower, located in the heart of the village of tre of attraction in Ticino, frequented by an Montagnola and forming part of the group of buildings of Casa Camuzzi. The Museum is directed by the Hermann Hesse Foundation, and has become a place which enables visitors to wander, in a sti- mulating atmosphere, along the creative path trodden by Hesse, to immerse themsel- ves in the realm of his literary work and to savour the beauty of his watercolours. The layout of the Museum allows contact and intercommunication between the visitors. The seating accommodation at the entran- ce, in the garden and in the book-shop where Hesse’s works are available in four international public. languages, invites visitors to rest and Translated into 60 languages and with over exchange views. 100 million books sold, Hermann Hesse is By virtue of its extensive design, in addition the German-language author of the twen- to the permanent exhibition of manuscripts, tieth century most widely read throughout letters, book editions, watercolours, photo- the world. For this reason the Hermann graphs and personal objects – including his Hesse Foundation in Montagnola has fre- desk and typewriter –, the Museum offers quently organised projects and exhibitions the visitor different possibilities of approa- outside the borders of Canton Ticino, for The Hermann Hesse Museum in the tower ching Hesse. example in Winterthur, Zurich, Berlin, of Casa Camuzzi in Each year, three separate temporary exhibi- Milan, Venice and Brussels. Montagnola tions contemplate and feature a particular Right: aspect of themes and personalities linked to * Director of the Fondazione Hermann The Painter’s Treasure: Hesse, giving the public access to very often Hesse Montagnola Hesse’s paints unpublished works and texts. Exhibitions and palette featuring the sculptor Hermann Hubacher, (Montagnola, Hermann Hesse Museum) the carpet-weaver Maria Geroe-Tobler and an

[XXXIV] “Beyond pictures and stories”

Biographical profile of Hermann Hesse and selection of the quota- tions for the thematic illustrations accompanying the Annual Report for the financial year by Pier Carlo Della Ferrera. Iconographic research by Regina Bucher and Pier Carlo Della Ferrera.

Acknowledgements We wish to thank all the people and institutions who, in their various capacities, provided information, news and useful sugge- stions for the accomplishment of this book. Our special thanks go to Professor Giuseppe Curonici and Doctor Regina Bucher, Director of the Fondazione Hermann Hesse in Montagnola.

Information about the Fondazione Hermann Hesse Montagnola www.hessemontagnola.ch / [email protected] Tel. 0041 91 993 37 70 / Fax 0041 91 993 37 72

Copyright © Calwer Verlag, Stuttgart, p. IV © Diego e Luigi Ciminaghi, Milano, p. XVI © Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, p. XVIII © Fondazione Hermann Hesse, Montagnola, p. XV, XXXIII, XXXIV © Heiner Hesse, Arcegno, p. II, X and XI, XVII, XX, XXII and XXIII, XXVI © Sanjiro Minanikawa, Tokyo, p. XXXIV © , Frankfurt am Main, p. III, V, VII, VIII, XII, XIV, XIX, XXV, XXVII, XXVIII, XXX, XXXI

Photographs by Martin Hesse, p. VII, XXX, XXXI S. Minanikawa, p. XXXIV below R. Pellegrini, p. XXXIV above DESIGN AND CO-ORDINATION SDB, Chiasso

GRAPHIC DESIGN Lucas Häfliger, Bellinzona

Reverse of flyleaf: Siddhartha, 1922 (translated by Hilda ROSNER, London, Owen, 1954 and Barbara Ferrett Rogers)